Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part 3: Chapter 3


"He is well, quite well!" Zossimov cried cheerfully as they entered.

He had come in ten minutes earlier and was sitting in the same place as before, on the sofa. Raskolnikov was sitting in the opposite corner, fully dressed and carefully washed and combed, as he had not been for some time past. The room was immediately crowded, yet Nastasya managed to follow the visitors in and stayed to listen.

Raskolnikov really was almost well, as compared with his condition the day before, but he was still pale, listless, and sombre. He looked like a wounded man or one who has undergone some terrible physical suffering. His brows were knitted, his lips compressed, his eyes feverish. He spoke little and reluctantly, as though performing a duty, and there was a restlessness in his movements.

He only wanted a sling on his arm or a bandage on his finger to complete the impression of a man with a painful abscess or a broken arm. The pale, sombre face lighted up for a moment when his mother and sister entered, but this only gave it a look of more intense suffering, in place of its listless dejection. The light soon died away, but the look of suffering remained, and Zossimov, watching and studying his patient with all the zest of a young doctor beginning to practise, noticed in him no joy at the arrival of his mother and sister, but a sort of bitter, hidden determination to bear another hour or two of inevitable torture. He saw later that almost every word of the following conversation seemed to touch on some sore place and irritate it. But at the same time he marvelled at the power of controlling himself and hiding his feelings in a patient who the previous day had, like a monomaniac, fallen into a frenzy at the slightest word.

"Yes, I see myself now that I am almost well," said Raskolnikov, giving his mother and sister a kiss of welcome which made Pulcheria Alexandrovna radiant at once. "And I don't say this as I did yesterday," he said, addressing Razumihin, with a friendly pressure of his hand.

"Yes, indeed, I am quite surprised at him to-day," began Zossimov, much delighted at the ladies' entrance, for he had not succeeded in keeping up a conversation with his patient for ten minutes. "In another three or four days, if he goes on like this, he will be just as before, that is, as he was a month ago, or two . . . or perhaps even three. This has been coming on for a long while . . . . eh? Confess, now, that it has been perhaps your own fault?" he added, with a tentative smile, as though still afraid of irritating him.

"It is very possible," answered Raskolnikov coldly.

"I should say, too," continued Zossimov with zest, "that your complete recovery depends solely on yourself. Now that one can talk to you, I should like to impress upon you that it is essential to avoid the elementary, so to speak, fundamental causes tending to produce your morbid condition: in that case you will be cured, if not, it will go from bad to worse. These fundamental causes I don't know, but they must be known to you. You are an intelligent man, and must have observed yourself, of course. I fancy the first stage of your derangement coincides with your leaving the university. You must not be left without occupation, and so, work and a definite aim set before you might, I fancy, be very beneficial."

"Yes, yes; you are perfectly right . . . . I will make haste and return to the university: and then everything will go smoothly . . . ."

Zossimov, who had begun his sage advice partly to make an effect before the ladies, was certainly somewhat mystified, when, glancing at his patient, he observed unmistakable mockery on his face. This lasted an instant, however. Pulcheria Alexandrovna began at once thanking Zossimov, especially for his visit to their lodging the previous night.

"What! he saw you last night?" Raskolnikov asked, as though startled. "Then you have not slept either after your journey."

"Ach, Rodya, that was only till two o'clock. Dounia and I never go to bed before two at home."

"I don't know how to thank him either," Raskolnikov went on, suddenly frowning and looking down. "Setting aside the question of payment — forgive me for referring to it (he turned to Zossimov) — I really don't know what I have done to deserve such special attention from you! I simply don't understand it . . . and . . . and . . . it weighs upon me, indeed, because I don't understand it. I tell you so candidly."

"Don't be irritated." Zossimov forced himself to laugh. "Assume that you are my first patient — well — we fellows just beginning to practise love our first patients as if they were our children, and some almost fall in love with them. And, of course, I am not rich in patients."

"I say nothing about him," added Raskolnikov, pointing to Razumihin, "though he has had nothing from me either but insult and trouble."

"What nonsense he is talking! Why, you are in a sentimental mood to-day, are you?" shouted Razumihin.

If he had had more penetration he would have seen that there was no trace of sentimentality in him, but something indeed quite the opposite. But Avdotya Romanovna noticed it. She was intently and uneasily watching her brother.

"As for you, mother, I don't dare to speak," he went on, as though repeating a lesson learned by heart. "It is only to-day that I have been able to realise a little how distressed you must have been here yesterday, waiting for me to come back."

When he had said this, he suddenly held out his hand to his sister, smiling without a word. But in this smile there was a flash of real unfeigned feeling. Dounia caught it at once, and warmly pressed his hand, overjoyed and thankful. It was the first time he had addressed her since their dispute the previous day. The mother's face lighted up with ecstatic happiness at the sight of this conclusive unspoken reconciliation. "Yes, that is what I love him for," Razumihin, exaggerating it all, muttered to himself, with a vigorous turn in his chair. "He has these movements."

"And how well he does it all," the mother was thinking to herself. "What generous impulses he has, and how simply, how delicately he put an end to all the misunderstanding with his sister — simply by holding out his hand at the right minute and looking at her like that . . . . And what fine eyes he has, and how fine his whole face is! . . . He is even better looking than Dounia . . . . But, good heavens, what a suit — how terribly he's dressed! . . . Vasya, the messenger boy in Afanasy Ivanitch's shop, is better dressed! I could rush at him and hug him . . . weep over him — but I am afraid . . . . Oh, dear, he's so strange! He's talking kindly, but I'm afraid! Why, what am I afraid of? . . . "

"Oh, Rodya, you wouldn't believe," she began suddenly, in haste to answer his words to her, "how unhappy Dounia and I were yesterday! Now that it's all over and done with and we are quite happy again — I can tell you. Fancy, we ran here almost straight from the train to embrace you and that woman — ah, here she is! Good morning, Nastasya! . . . She told us at once that you were lying in a high fever and had just run away from the doctor in delirium, and they were looking for you in the streets. You can't imagine how we felt! I couldn't help thinking of the tragic end of Lieutenant Potanchikov, a friend of your father's — you can't remember him, Rodya — who ran out in the same way in a high fever and fell into the well in the court-yard and they couldn't pull him out till next day. Of course, we exaggerated things. We were on the point of rushing to find Pyotr Petrovitch to ask him to help . . . . Because we were alone, utterly alone," she said plaintively and stopped short, suddenly, recollecting it was still somewhat dangerous to speak of Pyotr Petrovitch, although "we are quite happy again."

"Yes, yes . . . . Of course it's very annoying . . . ." Raskolnikov muttered in reply, but with such a preoccupied and inattentive air that Dounia gazed at him in perplexity.

"What else was it I wanted to say?" He went on trying to recollect. "Oh, yes; mother, and you too, Dounia, please don't think that I didn't mean to come and see you to-day and was waiting for you to come first."

"What are you saying, Rodya?" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. She, too, was surprised.

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